Update fall 2019: All Agu Ramen locations on Oahu have closed.
When I go to Agu Ramen, it’s usually because I’m craving their garlicky Parmesan cheese kotteri bowl. But Agu started a happy hour at all of its locations Sundays through Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. — and it's so good that now this is what stays on my brain.
There's the early happy hour and a late-night happy hour that starts one hour before closing (around 9 p.m. at Ward Centre, but happy hour and closing times at other locations vary). Early happy hour is not crowded. At Ward, this is the perfect setup if you’re looking for a quick dinner before catching a movie across the street.
What you can get for $15
Select appetizers are half-price for the full-size portion. I have to ask our server twice to be sure.
Asahi drafts and cocktails are also half-price, and wines by the glass are $5. Specials include a happy hour ramen ($7.50), happy hour tofu ($6.50) and Agu tacos ($2.75 for two).
The possiblities are endless, and for $15 each, we walk away full. Here's what you can get for $15.
Talk about a fried feast. The Agucini (regular price $6.75) never disappoints: three deep-fried, gooey, cheesy rice balls served with a creamy yuzu-citrus aioli. The balls are petite and so addictive. The chicken karaage (regular price $11.25) are six good-sized pieces of gloriously crunchy chicken that's moist and tender on the inside, and the original shikuwasa ponzu sauce it comes with is nothing short of amazing.
The ramen is probably the best deal on the happy hour menu. True, it’s a half-size portion, but you can’t beat the $7.50 price tag. Choose between jidori shio and jidori shoyu, which are the traditional ramens on the menu (the shio broth is lighter). The gyoza (six pieces) is made fresh daily and stuffed with ground pork, chives and cabbage.
The tofu is one of my favs on this menu. The soft block is covered with a creamy sesame dressing that I all but lick off the plate. It's refreshing and a welcome respite from all the fried action. Chicken kawa is crispy-fried chicken skin. It reminds me of shrimp chips — and it's just as addictive.
The Agu tacos look intriguing — two tacos filled with char siu, cabbage, yuzu aioli and salsa — but I'm too full. And though they’re not on the happy hour menu, you need to try the parmesan Brussels sprouts ($7). They're fried in a panko-and-cheese crust with a huge saucer of creamy yuzu-citrus sauce for dipping. After one bite, I adopt the entire platter. It’s a lot of fried food, but hey — if you get this, two orders of gyoza and one Asahi draft, that’s still only $15.50.